Christmas Child

A poem for Ben – born on Christmas Day.

You were Christmas’s child

Born not to riches

But to a life of graft

Making, mending and making do.

There were no gifts from the east for you

But craftsmanship guile, ready wit

The gift of friendship

And a fiercely independent spirit.

A time died with you

We only knew through your stories

Of big families, passed down children

Cursory schooling, schoolyard japes.

Of millionaires, big houses, gardeners,

Chauffeuring at fourteen.

Living starlit under country skies,

Courting on bicycles, bowler hatted,

Army scrapes and country pubs.

A time too we shared with you.

Days in your cosy, pokey cottage

Coal fires, pub lunches,

Stories and the things you said.

You in your chair beneath the stairs,

Snuff, boiled sweets and salad teas.

Neighbours in and out to greet you.

Shakey hands you could turn to anything.

Warm greetings and fond partings.

You won’t be there another Christmas,

Won’t be found there in your chair.

Gone the warmth of your fresh greeting.

Gone a source of Christmas cheer.

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